Husband ‘often came home worse for drink’

1913 Police Court

Before the Scarborough magistrates today the Mayor, Mr AM Daniel, presiding, Alderman Rowntree, Alderman V Fowler and Mr AJ Tugwell, Charles Elwick was summoned by his wife, Mary Elwick, who made application for a maintenance order.

The defendant pleaded not guilty, Mr J Whitfield, solicitor, appeared on behalf of the complainant.

Mr Whitfield said that complainant, Mrs Mary Elwick, lived at 84, North Marine Road. He had hoped that morning that he should have been able to avoid entering into details, and unpleasant circumstances which would unnecessarily injure the defendant. Defendant, however, he understood objected to being charged with neglect, but with regard to separation order he did not, and it was for him (Mr Whitfield) to prove the case against him.

The parties were married in 1894 at St Mary’s Church, and there were six children. The eldest was in a situation at Scarborough and earning 5s 9d a week. The other five children were under 16, and therefore the magistrates had power to make an order affecting these children.

The defendant was formerly a licensed victualler in Scarborough, but a year ago last January his affairs became involved and it became necessary for him to file his petition. Since then he had lived with and had been supported by his wife, who had not only maintained the children, but also defendant himself. He brought in hardly any money, and she obtained her living as a housekeeper. Defendant suggested he had tried to get work, but it seemed hardly reasonable for a bench of magistrates to allow a defendant to escape merely because he said he could not get work.

The fact that he had got no work for 15 months spoke for itself. He was a man physically fit to work, who, if he only kept clear of the drink, undoubtedly could get work. Almost every week he had come home the worse for drink, thereby showing he had money to spend.

When returning home drunk he made matters exceedingly unpleasant for his wife and the lodger. She had a permanent lodger until Tuesday last, when as a result of the defendant’s wretched conduct he left. Although the defendant had been going on in this lazy and unsatisfactory method, yet he had come home for his meals at his wife’s expense. The only money she had received from defendant during the last 15 months was £2 10s in April, 1912, and a sum of £1 10s received from his brother. There was also a sum for which there was no credit due to defendant, a policy on one of the children becoming due by which his client received £9, but she had been paying the premiums. The day before his client came for a summons to the police station she had left her husband.

Locking him out of the house, of which she was the tenant, and the contents of which she was the owner. That was her only possible way of leaving him in order to comply with the terms of the statute.

The following night the defendant went to the house, broke the scullery window, and thereby obtained access to the house. His client went to the Police Station and asked for assistance, but the police said it was her house and they could not interfere. For two days following he had lived with her in the house, although against her wishes.

The applicant, in the box, said that her husband often used to come home the worse for drink. He had knocked the tables over, and smashed the kitchen dresser. Before her husband became a licensed victualler he was a tailor; and in opinion there was nothing to prevent him working if he was so minded.

In further replies defendant denied the evidence given as to his habits and character. He had kept sober for 25 years. He did not know what getting drunk meant.

The magistrates granted a separation order, the wife to take the custody of the children. The amount made was 10s per week, and defendant was also ordered to pay the costs of the case.b